Going Gluten Free: 8 Tips for Managing Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity
March 23, 2017 | Published by Dr. Eric Bakker
Whether you have celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten, it can be difficult to avoid. Making meal plans can be challenging, and the thought of eating out can cause more anxiety than joy. Here are my 8 tips for eliminating gluten and taking away the stress of living with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
- You can live without bread. However, just because you can’t eat gluten, it doesn’t mean you can’t eat bread. You can find gluten-free bread recipes on my website.
- Make a list of all the things you can eat. This is an important step to take. When you start listing all the things you can eat, your whole perspective changes. Focusing on what you cannot eat tends to put more emphasis on your condition and what it takes away from you. By focusing on what you can eat you’re putting the focus more on yourself – someone who happens to have celiac disease but still eats delicious food and enjoys life.
- Decide to cook (most) of your own meals. We live in a time where fast food and eating out are almost considered a necessity, and although there is an increasing range of gluten-free dishes on offer when you go out, being diagnosed as celiac or gluten intolerant changes the way you eat. Look at this as an opportunity to start feeding yourself and your family the healthier diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, lean meats, etc, that you’ve always wanted. You can also look at it as a chance to learn a new skill; cooking is an art form that has fallen out of fashion with our fast paced 21st century lifestyle.
- Try new recipes regularly. If you’ve never cooked anything but the basics, I would suggest you start with something very easy. Once you’ve got more experience, choose something a little more advanced. Successfully completing a delicious gluten-free recipe can raise your spirits considerably, as you begin to realize that you can do this and you don’t have to be a “social disaster” because you say no to breads, cakes or biscuits when you eat or snack around others.
- Buy some basic gluten-free baking supplies. Because other (non-wheat) flour have differing amounts of carbs, proteins, fibers, etc., than wheat, a mixture of different gluten-free flours and starches works best to replace wheat flour. Here are some of the main ingredients you’ll need to get started: white rice flour, tapioca starch or flour, potato starch or flour, corn starch and xanthan gum. Buy some good quality plastic containers with tight-fitting lids to store your flours. Don’t forget to clearly label them, as many flours look alike. In the long run, it is cheaper to buy a small electric mill and grind your own rice flour from bulk-purchased white or brown rice. Xanthan gum is probably the most expensive ingredient you’ll need to buy, but you don’t use very much of it (only 1 tsp. or so in most recipes). Don’t try to skip it because of the price tag; xanthan gum is what makes gluten free baked goods stick together.
- If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Sometimes things don’t work out right, and other times you just don’t like the flavor of the final product. DON’T GIVE UP! Make some notes about what worked and what you didn’t like, and then try the recipe again later. As you get more experience cooking gluten free foods, you’ll begin to realize the things you can do to make your recipes turn out the way you want. Look online for forums and websites which offer great gluten-free recipes. The only way you are going to find out if it works or not for you is ultimately to experiment.
- Keep working on your digestive system. If you drink, try stopping all alcohol for as many months as you can. The longer the better, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the difference. Take a good probiotic daily for at least 6 months. Pancreatic enzymes can help many with celiac disease feel significantly better, as they have problems in their small intestine. The big thing to remember here is avoid anything that causes digestive trouble or discomfort; it’s simply not worth the trouble.
- Get checked for nutritional deficiencies. Classic deficiencies here are iron, selenium, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, D, E, K, B6 and B12. Key amino acids to look for are carnitine and glutamine.
Image Credit: Flickr user Michael Mandiberg
About the Author: Eric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for 27 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and professional practitioner education. Eric specializes in candida, psoriasis, as well as adrenal fatigue, thyroid and digestive disorders. Dr. Bakker has written one of the most comprehensive books on yeast infections called Candida Crusher. He has also written what may well be the most comprehensive Natural Psoriasis Treatment Program available. You can find more articles by Dr. Bakker on his blog at www.ericbakker.com.
Categorised in: Digestive Health